Libertarian Jackass

"Life is short, but truth works far and lives long; let us speak truth." -- Schopenhauer

Thursday, November 27, 2003

On Conformity

I caught the segment of Dead Poets Society on TV where John Keating encourages the boys to avoid conformity, choose their own path and march to their own beat. I began thinking about the idea of conformity and my interest peaked during a conversation with a friend today about "being like everyone else." I then found this quote: "The less satisfaction we derive from being ourselves, the greater is our desire to be like others." -- Eric Hoffer. Aside from the obvious response--of course you choose the action that grants greater satisfaction--I think there is much truth in this statement, for individuals that have yet to discover themselves constantly try to emulate the characteristics of others--in dress, actions and even ideas. They derive comfort out of being like the others, being accepted by the group. (I also found this hilarious paper on Harvard's economics department page: The Economics of 'Acting White'.) I often receive the admonishment : "Most people in the world think we need a government, so you are wasting your time." I wonder how much the myth of the State rests on the nature of conformity? On the other hand, Ayn Rand definitely had it right when she said, "There is a level of cowardice lower than that of the conformist: the fashionable non-conformist." By the way, how many libertarians are really of that ilk? Cowardly conformists and cowardly non-conformists--the root of all evil?

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